Wilderness EMS Summit – Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship

The 2021 Carolina Wilderness EMS Summit will be held September 18-19 in Pisgah National Forest and the Linville Gorge Wilderness, the deepest gorge and one of the oldest designated wilderness areas in the eastern United States.*


The Summit is a Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC)-supported EMS Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference attracting EMS personnel from throughout the southeast.  During the 2-day experience EMS students learn critical wilderness EMS (WEMS) and extended medical care skills.  The Carolina WEMS Externs serve as faculty, sharing skills they have learned during their Extern month. The primary target audience for the Summit are ALS EMS providers who need WEMS skills for their field medical care, with particular emphasis on EMTs, paramedics, and wilderness EMS physicians. Many other provider types have found this training rewarding as well, and BLS providers are welcome to enroll. The 2021 Summit will be held Sept 18-19.

While the Summit does contain elements of technical rescue, the key emphasis of this training is the delivery of medical care in the technical rescue environment.  This emphasis on training the WEMS elements of a technical rescue team provides a unique training experience for students interested in serving as EMS personnel on a more generalized rescue team. Students will earn up to 16 hours of EMS continuing education credit.


Sessions on Saturday afternoon and Sunday will all be in the field in Pisgah National Forest abutting the Linville Gorge Wilderness.* This is the deepest gorge, and one of the oldest designated wilderness areas, in the eastern United States. Teaching will be in small groups and will provide practical training in WEMS procedures and principles. The 2021 theme has not yet been announced. Students will receive intensive training in converting traditional EMS skills (intubation, airway management, establishing IVs, administering pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain treatments, etc) into a vertical, aquatic, or mountainous patient environment. There will be extensive additional technical training in other wilderness medical skills. Although by necessity this training will include elements of technical rescue, the emphasis throughout will be on the field delivery of medical care, and the skills needed to be the healthcare provider on a technical rescue team. In keeping with the esse quam videri philosophy of all CWEMSE and Hawk Ventures programming, every effort is made for training to be hands-on and actual. There is no indoor classroom time in this course.


Seth Hawkins, MD Dr. Hawkins, the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship founder and course director, holds dual board certifications in Emergency Medicine and EMS. He is the first physician ever awarded the degree of Master Fellow by the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He is Medical Director of Burke County EMS, NC State Parks and Landmark Learning, founder of the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine, and co-founder of Vertical Medicine Resources. He was named a “Hero of Emergency Medicine” by the American College of Emergency Physicians for his work in wilderness EMS in 2008, and received the Wilderness Medical Society-BALL Wilderness Medicine Award in 2009. He was named one of the Top 10 Innovators in EMS in 2011 by JEMS for his work as the co-founder of the Wilderness EMS Medical Course (sponsored by the National Association of EMS Physicians and the Wilderness Medical Society), and was again named one of the Top 10 Innovators in EMS in 2018 for the textbook Wilderness EMS.  He also serves as Executive Editor of Wilderness Medicine Magazine and helped develop one of the first wilderness EMS degree programs in the country at Western Carolina University. He is currently an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

David Young, Paramedic – David Young is a North Carolina paramedic in Western North Carolina. He is a former instructor at Fort Bragg’s Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center and has served as an instructor for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine. He served six years as a medic in the United States Army and is a graduate of Western Carolina University’s EMS program. David is an avid supporter of unconventional medicine as well as wilderness rescue and survival training.

James Robinson, Paramedic James Robinson is a Burke County EMS (BCEMS) paramedic and a member of the BCEMS Special Operations Team. He works for MedCenter Air in Charlotte, NC, as well has being a lead faculty member for Hawk Ventures.


1) Current healthcare professional


Total course fee is $150 per student. This includes a $70 community college tuition fee and an $80 course fee. NC students meeting emergency services fee-exempt status do not pay the $70 community college tuition fee, but still must pay the $80 course fee. Fees include all meals and registration costs for camping with the class at Steele Creek Campground outside Morganton. Information on alternate housing options, as well as recommended equipment to bring, will be distributed upon confirmation of registration.


Registration and payment is available via secure payment link here, or enter this URL manually into your browser:

For more information via email:
Dr. Seth Hawkins
David Young
James Robinson

*This US Forest teaching site is being used via permitting and permission of the United States Forest Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.